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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

LIFE   OF
herds, Puerta de Silla, at about seven o'clock. The
mornino" was fine and cool, the sky seemed to favour the
undertaking, and the view was most picturesque. The
guides hoped to reach the Silla heights in six hours.
The noise of the waterfalls was heard, but the moun-
tain stream could not be seen,, for it was concealed
beneath the thick shadows of the erythrias, clusias,
and Indian fig-trees. Nothing could be more beaLi-
tiful on a spot where there are so many plants with
large, bright,, and tough leaves, as the view clown OB.
the tops of the trees, illuminated by nearly perpen-
dicular rays of the sun.
The way became steeper and more fatiguing; the
ground was covered with short grass, which afforded
no firm footing, and it was impossible to leave any
footmarks in the grass. Thin vapours rose from the
forests, and announced an approaching mist. They
accumulated and ranged themselves as cloudy curls
round the two tops of the Silla, as the forerunners of
a, still denser mist. Hurnboldt^s companions lost
courage, and showed some signs of beathig a retreat,
and the intimate garrulity of the accompanying negro
Creoles contrasted strongly with the solemnity of the
Indians, who had been Htimboldt's guides in the
missions of Caripe. They mocked the discouraged
guides., and made themselves merry especially at a
young Capucin friar, who was, at the same time, pro*-
fessor of mathematics. »When the travellers started,
he thought, as all Europeans do, that he would sur-
pass all the Americans in boldness, strength, and fore-
sight ; he had even taken bits of white paper with him,
"that he, as the foremost of the climbers, might throw
them down from time to time to show the way to the
less agile. He had boasted much of his boldness and
perseverance, and had promised the monks of his
order to fire some rockets from the top of the moun-
tain., in order to announce to the inhabitants of Caracas
an event the importance of which he alone could ap-
preciate. But this boaster lost courage long* before
the Creoles did, and remained all day in a neighbour